Monday, October 13, 2008


This is what rubbish collection looks like in New Zealand.

When I was a teenager being a rubbish man was a repectable occupation in New Zealand. In Wellington there were a few well known friendly, grinning rugby players (this was when they played for pride and love not the big money they play for now!) plowing through the cities hedges, running up our hilly roads, leaping garden steps three at a time and ducking through our backyards with huge sacks of our rubbish on their backs. It was a popular job because it was physical, well paid and it was all over by lunchtime.

(file photo)

And then New Zealand began to recycle.

In Singapore many people have a chute.

Anything and everything went into the chute and, in our case, then fell 19 floors to the huge bin at the bottom which got wheeled to the curb for daily pick up. In our condo we had recycling bins too for glass, paper and cans and as at home we sorted things upstairs and carried the contents down to the ground floor every week.

The perception of Singapore is that it is (like New Zealand) a clean place. This is partly true it is clean but only because there are so many people doing the cleaning. Every day in the papers there are articles and letters about the litter crimes of its citizens. Regular items jetisoned out the window are used cotton buds, tufts of hair, used sanitary pads and nappys, wads of tissue, cigarette butts, fruit peel, egg shells and plastic.

(from the Straits Times Jan 2008)

This is what Singapore can look like in the early hours before the army of foreign workers employed to clean up after it's citizens begin work.

Singapore has just begun to use recycling bins. It is taking a while for some people to catch on!!

This is the age old way Singaporeans have recycled, the karung guni man. He or she makes daily rounds of homes and places of business to collect anything and everything that can possibly be recycled.

Phnom Penh isnt as dirty as you may think. These are rubbish barrows waiting for the rubbish truck.

Household rubbish waiting to be collected in a tidy pile. Sometimes the piles get out of hand or the dogs get to them first but they are trying.

This couple are Phnom Penhs version of Singapores karung guni man. They can sell their collection to various depots on the road leading to the dump (more about Phnom Penhs infamous dump in another post).

Entire families can often be seen collecting the recyclables. This young lad was on his own on Sunday.

So was this even younger jaunty wee lad. He had a real bounce to his step even in the midday sun.

This street sweeper is going to walk right past the pile of rubbish near the 'pond'. Maybe he thinks his bin's too small?

This street sweeper is doing a great job!

They even sweep up the dust.

And scrape up the mud all for a few cents a day.

(from sprep)

The Samoans could learn a thing or two.


Connie said...

When we first arrived in Cairo, my then 3yo son was thrilled with the street sweepers. They all wore a red and blue coverall - "Look mom! It's Spiderman!!" The streets were full of superheros!

Lynda said...

HUH? I live in Cairo... recycling.. what is that?

Tanya said...

Love it Connie bet you giggled about that for a while!!!
Actually I saw a program about the Zabbaleen, Cairo's karung guni people, on BBC not long ago. If I remember rightly Cairo produces 10 000 tonnes of rubbish only 60% of which is collected.The Zabbaleen collect about 2/3 of that 60% and manage to recycle and sort about 85% of it into resalable products which is better than the best western schemes that average about 70%. They collect the rubbish like the karung guni men do and take it back to their homes where their wives and children do the sorting. They live with the rubbish they are sorting and pigs (which help by eating some of it)in conditions which are pretty bad although in the 1980s they attracted the attentiuon of some NGOs and the world bank and now conditions are a bit better, there are schools and literacy rates have improved. Apparently in the early 2000's the Egyptian govt tried to stop them claiming what they were doing was unhygienic but as they had so much international backing and were cheaper and more efficient than the Rubbish companies the govt had to back down.
I cant remember what the programme was called but if you google Zabbaleen and BBC you may find it. They have the most amazing church which they have built into the ground because to build a church in Egypt(?)/Cairo (cant remember which) you have to get permission and because they are Christians in Egypt their paperwork would be delayed forever so instead of building they dug. I would love to see it one day in person (Im sorry I didnt know about it when we went to Egypt at christmas time last year) it totally blew me away.